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Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sure, Ryan Howard's pretty good...


Ryan Howard is pretty good. I mean, he's no Shin-Soo Choo. But pretty good, for sure.

You probably think I'm just some snot-nosed blogger trying to make a name for myself.

You're right. After all, it's patently ridiculous to suggest that a Cleveland Indian who's unknown to all but the most rabid fantasy owners should even be mentioned in the same breath with a Philadelphia Phillie who has led the National League in RBIs in three of the last four seasons.

Still, don't you think that perhaps a bit of a corrective is in order?

In comparing the Phillies and the Yankees, lineup slot by lineup slot, Bill Conlin rates Howard above A-Rod. Tyler Kepner, one of my smartest colleagues, describes Howard and Rodriguez as "prodigious sluggers at the height of their powers ..."

I'm not sure exactly what's going on here. Maybe everyone is fooled by all those runs Howard drives in every year. Maybe there's a subconscious effort to invest this World Series with more drama than it's probably going to have. All I know is that I keep reading that the Yankees lineup is little better than the Phillies' "AL-style" lineup ... and then I look at some actual numbers, and I find that the Yankees were roughly 20 percent better than the average American League offense this season, and the Phillies were roughly two percent better than the average National League offense. Granted, much of that is due to the Phillies' bench faring poorly ... but, still.

Howard plays first base reasonably well, and his context-adjusted OPS this season was about 40 percent better than league average. Shin-Soo Choo plays right field reasonably well, and his context-adjusted OPS this season was about 30 percent better than league average. Choo's league is better than Howard's. Choo stole 21 bases this season, and was caught only twice.

Considering the differences between right field and first base, and between the American League and the National League ... well, maybe it's not so ridiculous after all.

The Yankees are overwhelming favorites because they're significantly more talented than the Phillies. If they'd played in the National League East this season, they'd have beaten out the Phillies for first place by a dozen games or more.

Which doesn't mean they're going to win the World Series. But there's a reason why so many people who don't live in Philadelphia think the Yankees are going to win. And while I know that the numbers (and many of the same people) believed the Dodgers were going to beat the Phillies, I also know that the numbers (and the people) have done pretty well this month, otherwise.

I would love to see an exciting World Series. I just don't see any reason to think I will.